tv MSNBC Live MSNBC July 15, 2011 11:00am-12:00pm EDT
now, what is important is that even as we raise the debt ceiling, we also solve the problem of underlying debt and deficits. you know, i'm glad congressional leaders don't want to default, but i think the american people expect more than that, they expect that we actually try to solve this problem. we get our fiscal house in order. and so during the course of these discussions with congressional leaders, what i've tried to emphasize is we have a unique opportunity to do something big. we have a chance to stabilize america's finances for a decade. for 15 years, or 20 years, if we're willing to seize the moment. now, what that would require would be some shared sacrifice, and a balanced approach that says we're going to make significant cuts in domestic spending, and i have already said i am willing to take down
domestic spending to the lowest percentage of our overall economy since dwight eisenhower. it also requires cuts in defense spending. and i've said that in addition to the $400 billion that we've already cut from the defense spending we're willing to look for hundreds of billions more. it would require us taking on health care spending. and that includes looking at medicare and finding ways that we can stabilize the system so that it is available, not just for this generation, but for future generations. and it would require revenues. it would require, even as we're asking the person who needs a student loan or the senior citizen or, you know, people -- veterans who are trying to get by on a disability check, even as we're trying to make sure that all those programs are affordable, we're also saying to folks like myself that can
afford it that we are able and willing to do a little bit more. that millionaires and billionaires can afford to do a little bit more. that we can close corporate loopholes so that oil companies aren't getting unnecessary tax breaks. or that corporate jet owners aren't getting unnecessary tax breaks. if we take that approach, then i am confident that we cann, not only impress the financial markets, but more importantly we can impress the american people this town can get something done once in a while. let me acknowledge what everyone understands, it is hard to do a big package. my republican friends have said they're not willing to do revenues, and they have repeated that on several occasions. my hope, though, is that they're listening not just to lobbyists
or special interests here in washington, but they're also listening to the american people. because it turns out, poll after poll, many done by your organizations, show that it's not just democrats who think we need to take a balanced approach, it's republicans as well. the clear majority of republican voters think that any deficit reduction package should have a balanced approach and should include some revenues. that's not just democrats, that's the majority of republicans. you've got a whole slew of republican officials from previous administrations. you've got a bipartisan commission that has said that we need revenues. so this is not just a democratic understanding, this is an understanding that i think the american people hold that we should not be asking sacrifices from middle class folks who are working hard every day from the
most vulnerable in our society, we should not be asking them to make sacrifices we're not asking the most fortunate in our society to make as well. so i am still pushing for us to achieve a big deal. but what i also said to the group is, if we can't do the biggest deal possible, then let's still be ambitious. let's still try to at least get a down payment on deficit reduction. and that we can actually accomplish without huge changes in revenue or significant changes in entitlements, but we could still send a signal that we are serious about this problem. the fallback position, the third option, and i think the least attractive option, is one in which we raise the debt ceiling but we don't make any progress in deficit and debt. because if we take that approach, this issue is going to
continue to plague us for months and years to come. and i think it's important for the american people that everybody in this town set politics aside, that everybody in this town sets our individual interests aside, and we try to do some tough stuff. and i -- i've already taken some heat from my party for being willing to compromise. my expectation and hope is that everybody in the coming days is going to be willing to compromise. last point i'll make and then i'll take questions, we are obviously running out of time. and so what i've said to the members of congress is that, you need, over the next 24 to 36 hours, to give me some sense of what your plan is to get the debt ceiling raised through whatever mechanisms they can think about, and show me a plan in terms of what you're doing for deficit and debt reduction.
if they show me a serious plan, i'm ready to move. even if it requires some tough decisions on my part. and i'm hopeful that over the next couple of days we'll see this logjam break, this logjam broken, because the american people, i think, understandably want to see washington do its job. all right? so with that, let me see who's on the list. we're going to start with jake. >> thank you, mr. president. you've said that reducing the deficit will require shared sacrifice. we know -- we have an idea of the taxes you would like to see raised on corporations and americans in the top two tax brackets, but we don't yet know what specifically willing to do when it comes to entitlement spending. in the interest of transparency, leadership, and also showing the american people that you have been negotiating in good faith, can you tell us one structural reform that you are willing to make to one of these entitlement programs that would have a major
impact on the deficit? would you be willing to raise the retirement age? would you be willing to means test social security or medicare? >> we've said we are willing to look at all those approaches. i've laid out some criteria in terms of what would be acceptable. so, for example, i've said very clearly that we should make sure that current beneficiaries, as much as possible, are not affected. but we should look at what can we do in the out years so that over time some of these programs are more sustainable. i've said that means testing on medicare, meaning people like myself, if -- you know, i'm going to be turning 50 in a week, so i'm starting to think a little bit more about medicare eligibility, the -- yeah, i'm going to get my aarp card soon. and the discounts.
but the -- you know, you can envision a situation where for somebody in my position, me having to pay a little bit more on premiums or co-pays or things like that, would be appropriate. and again, that could make a difference. so we've been very clear about where we're willing to go. what we're not willing to do is to restructure the program in the ways that we've seen coming out of the house over the last several months, where we would voucherize the program and you potentially have senior citizens paying $6,000 more. i view social security and medicare as the most important social safety nets that we have. i think it is important for them to remain as social insurance programs that give people some certainty and reliability in their golden years. but it turns out that making
some modest modifications in those entitlements can save you trillions of dollars. and it's not necessary to completely revamp the program, what is necessary is to say, you know, how do we make some modifications, including by the way, on the provider's side. i think it's important for us to keep in mind that, you know, drug companies, for example, are still doing very well through the medicare program. and although we have made drugs more available at a cheaper price to seniors who earn medicare through the affordable care act, there's more work to potentially be done there. so if you look at a balanced package even within the entitlement programs, it turns out that you can save trillions of dollars while maintaining the core integrity of the program. i'm not going to get into specifics, as i said, jake. everything that you mentioned are things we have discussed.
but what i'm not going to do is to ask for -- even -- well, let me put it this way. if you're a senior citizen, and a modification potentially costs you $100 or 200 bucks a year or more, or even if it's not affecting current beneficiaries, somebody who's 40 today, 20 years from now is going to end up having to pay a little bit more. the least i can do is to say that people who are making $1 million or more have to do something as well. and that's the kind of tradeoff, that's the kind of balanced approach and shared sacrifice that i think most americans agree needs to happen. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. president. i just thought i heard you kind of open up the door to the middle of the road possibility. show me a serious plan and then
i'm prepared to move. just a few minutes before you came here house republicans said they'd be voting on $2.4 trillion package that's a balanced budget amendment. is that a serious plan? is it dead on arrival or does it short circuit what you expect to happen in the next 24, 36 hours? >> i haven't looked at it yet, and i think in my expectation is you'll probably see the house vote on a couple of things just to make political statements. but if you're trying to get to $2.4 trillion without any revenue, then you are effectively gutting a whole bunch of domestic spending that is going to be too burdensome and is not going to be something that i would support. you know, just to be very specific, we've identified over $1 trillion in discretionary cuts, both in defense and
domestic spending. that's hard to do. i mean, that requires essentially that you freeze spending, and when i say freeze, that means you're not getting inflation so that these are program attic cuts that over the course of ten years you'd be looking at 10% cut in domestic spending. if you, then, double that number, you're -- you're then, at that point, really taking a big bite out of programs that are really important to ordinary folks. i mean, you're talking then about students accumulating thousands of dollars more in student loan debt every year. you're talking about, you know, federal workers and veterans and others potentially having to pay more in terms of their health care. so, you know, i have not seen a credible plan having gone
through the numbers that would allow you to get to $2.4 trillion without really hurting ordinary folks. and the notion that we would be doing that, and not asking anything from the wealthiest among us or from closing corporate loopholes, that doesn't seem like a serious plan to me. i mean, the notion that, for example, you know, oil company tax breaks, where the oil executives themselves say they probably don't need them, to have an incentive to go out and drill oil and make hundreds of billions of dollars, you know, if we haven't seen the other side even budge on that, you know, then i think most democrats would say that's not a serious plan. one last point on the balanced budget amendment, i don't know what version they're going to be presenting but some of the balanced budget amendments that have been floating up there,
this cap, or cut cap and balance, for example, when you look at the numbers, what you're looking at is cuts of half a trillion dollars below the ryan budget in any given year. i mean, it would require cutting social security or medicare substantially. and i think it's important for everybody to understand that all of us believe that we need to get to a point where eventually we can balance the budget. we don't need a constitutional amendment to do that, what we need to do is to do our jobs, and we have to do it the same way a family would do it. you know, a family, if they get overextended and their credit card is too high, they don't just stop paying their bills. what they do is they say, how do we start cutting our monthly cost? we keep on making payments, but we start cutting out the things that aren't necessary.
and we do it in a way that maintains our credit rating, we do it in a way that's responsible. we don't stop sending our kids to college, we don't stop fixing the boiler or the roof that's leaking, we do things in a sensible, responsible way. we can do the same thing when it comes to the federal budget. >> so within that $2 trillion band, if you end up going to this middle of the road package which i think you referred to as the second option, would that need to have, if are your signature, some sort of stimulative measure, either pay roll tax extension or extension of unemployment insurance? >> i think both would be good for the economy. a pay roll tax cut is something that has put $1,000 in the pocket of the typical american family over the last six, seven months, and has helped offset some of the rising costs in gasoline and food, and i think that american consumers and american businesses would
benefit from a continuation of that tax cut next year. unemployment insurance, obviously unemployment is still too high. and you know, there are a lot of folks out there who are doing everything they can to find a job, but the market is still tight out there. and for us to make sure that they are able to stay in their homes potentially or they're able to still support their families, i think is very important and contributes to the overall economy. so i think that there are ways that you can essentially take a little over $1 trillion in serious discretionary cuts, meaningful discretionary cuts, and then start building on top of that some cuts in nonhealth care mandatory payments, you know, ethenol programs or -- you know, how we calculate various subsidies to various industries, that could potentially belayered
on and we could still do something like a tax cut for ordinary families that would end up benefiting the economy as a whole. that is not my preferable option, though. i just want to be clear. i think about this like a layer cake. you can do the bare minimum, and then you can make some progressively harder decisions to solve the problem more and more, and we're in a position now where if we're serious about this and everybody's willing to compromise, we can, as i said before, fix this thing probably for a decade or more. and that's something that i think would be good for the overall business climate and would encourage the american people that washington actually is willing to take care of its business. >> [ inaudible question ]. >> i lost you on that one. >> you're saying this would be good for the business climate and economy but you're not saying they need to be included for you to sign either $2 trillion or $4 trillion.
>> i've got to look at an overall package. i don't know what the speaker or mr. mcconnell are willing to do at this point. >> mr. president, this process got kind of ugly in the last week, and it appeared from the outside things even got a little futile at these meetings. any regrets on your role in how this went? and do you have any regrets that you never took $4 trillion over ten years and spent the last six months selling that, the balanced package to the american people? >> no. first of all, i think this notion that things got ugly is just not true. we've been meeting every single day. and we have had very constructive conversations. you know, the american people are not interested in the reality tv aspects of who said what and did somebody's feelings get hurt. they're interested in solving the budget problem. and the deficit and the debt. and so that may be good for
chatter in this town, it's not something that folks out in the country are obsessing about. i think with respect to simpson, it was important for us -- it wouldn't have happened had i not set up the structure for it, as you will recall, this was originally bipartisan legislation that some of the republican supporters of decided to vote against when i said i supported it. that seems to be a pattern that i'm still puzzled by. so we set it up. they issued a report, and what i said was this provides us an important framework to begin discussions. but there were aspects of bowles/simpson that i said from very early on, you know, were not the approach i would take. i'll give you an example. on defense spending, a huge amount of their savings on the discretionary side came out of defense spending.
i think we need to cut defense. but as commander in chief, i've got to make sure we're cutting it in a way that recognizes we're still in the middle of a war, we're winding down another war, and we've got a whole bunch of veterans we've got to care for as they come home. and so what we've said is a lot of the components of bowles/simpson we are willing to embrace, such as the domestic spending cuts they recommend we've basically taken. others on defense, we have taken some but not all the recommendations because it's important for it to be consistent with our defense and security needs. the bottom line is that this is not an issue of salesmanship to the american people, the american people are sold 37 the american people are sold. i just want to repeat this. >> do you think it would have been different -- >> chuck -- >> did republican senators -- >> chuck, you have 80% of the
american people who support a balanced approach. 80% of the american people support an approach that includes revenues and includes cuts. so the notion that somehow the american people aren't sold is not the problem. the problem is members of congress are dug in i ideologically into various positions because they boxed themselves in with previous statements. so this is not a matter of the american people knowing what the right thing to do is, this is a matter of congress doing the right thing and reflecting the will of the american people. and if we do that, we will have solved this problem. >> thank you, mr. president. i wanted to ask you about the two trains that seem to be rolling down the tracks on the hill. specifically leader mcconnell has laid out an elaborate plan to raise the debt limit. he said last night that it looked like they're going to
pair that with a new committee that would be tasked with coming up with the big solution that you talk about. your comment on that proposal. meanwhile, in the house, they're saying, well, we can be flexible on some of our demands if we get a balanced budget amendment. they note vice president biden voted for a bba in 1997. is there any way that can be part of the solution? >> first of all, for the consumption of the general public, bba meaning balance budget amendment. i think i already addressed this question earlier. we don't need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs. the constitution already tells us to do our jobs. and to make sure that the government is living within its means and making responsible choices. and so this notion that we're going to go through a multi-year process instead of seizing the
moment now and taking care of our problems is a typical washington response. we don't need more studies, we don't need a balanced budget amendment, we simply need to make these tough choices. and be willing to take on our bases. and everybody knows it. i mean, we could have a discussion right here about what the numbers look like and we'd know what's necessary. and here's the good news. it turns out we don't have to do anything radical to solve this problem. contrary to what some folks say, we're not greece, you know, we're not portugal. it turns out that our problem is we cut taxes without paying for them over the last decade. we ended up instituting new programs like a prescription drug program for seniors that was not paid for. we fought two wars, we didn't
pay for them. you know, we had a bad recession that required a recovery act and stimulus spending and helping states and all that accumulated and there's interest on top of that, and to unwind that, what's required is that we roll back those tax cuts on the wealthiest individuals, that we clean up our tax code so we're not giving out a bunch of tax breaks to companies that don't need them and are not creating jobs, we cut programs that we don't need, and we invest in those things that are going to help us grow. and every commission that's been out there has said the same thing and basically taken the same approach within the margin of error. so, you know, my general view is
that if the american people looked at this, they'd say, boy, some of these decisions are tough, but they don't require us to gut medicare or social security, they don't require us to stop helping young people go to college, they don't require us to stop, you know, helping families who have got a disabled child, they don't require us to violate our obligations to our veterans, and they don't require, quote, unquote, job-killing tax cuts. they require us to make some modest adjustments to get our house in order, and we should do it now. with respect to senator mcconnell's plan, as i said, i think it is a -- it is constructive to say that if washington operates as usual and can't get anything done, let's at least avert armageddon. that's -- i'm glad that people
are serious about the consequences of default. but we have two problems here. one is raising the debt ceiling. this is a problem that was manufactured her in washington, because every single one of the leaders over there have voted for raising the debt ceiling in the past and has typically been a difficult but routine process. and we do have a genuine underlying problem that our debt and deficits are too big. so senator mcconnell's approach solves the first problem, it doesn't solve the second problem. i'd like to solve that second problem. >> so are you looking at this option as a more likely outcome at this point? or can you share with us why you said some hope that the talks that have been going on might
actually produce an outcome. >> i always have hope. don't you remember my campaign? even after being here for 2 1/2 years, i continue to have hope. you know why i have hope? is because of the american people. you know, when i talk to them and i meet with them, as frustrated as they are about this town, they still reflect good common sense. and all we have to do is align with that common sense on this problem, it can get solved. and i'm assuming that at some point members of congress are going to listen. i just want to repeat, every republican -- not, i won't say every. a number of republican former elected officials, that are not in office now, would say a balanced approach that includes some revenue is the right thing to do. the majority of republican voters say that approach is the right thing to do. the proposal that i would
discussing with speaker boehner fell squarely in line with what most republican voters think we should do. so the question is, at what point do folks over there start listening to the people who put them in office? now's a good time. sam young. >> good morning, mr. president. i'd like to go to the tone of this debate, i remember your campaign and i'm guessing that while it hasn't been ugly, as you say, it's not what you had in mind when you said you wanted to change the tone in washington. when you have senator mcconnell making comments that he views these negotiations through the prism of 2012, how much does that poison the well and going forward, if you can get a deal on this, can you get anything done with congress for the next year and a half? >> well, let me say this. and i'm not trying to poke at you guys.
i generally don't watch what is said about me on cable. i generally don't read what's said about me, even in "the hill," and so, you know, part of this job is having a thick skin and understanding a lot of this stuff's not personal. you know, that's not going to be an impediment to whatever senator mcconnell says about me on the floor of the senate is not going to be impediment to us getting a deal done. you know, the question is going to be whether at any given moment we're willing to set politics aside at least briefly in order to get something done. i don't expect politicians not to think about politics, but every so often there are issues that are urgent that have to be attended to and require us to do things we don't like to do. that run contrary to our base.
that get some constituencies that helped elect us agitated. because they're looking at it through a narrow prism. we're supposed to be stepping back and looking at it from the perspective of what's good for the country. and if we are able to remind ourselves of that, then there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to get things done. look. we've been obsessing over the last couple weeks about raising the debt ceiling and reducing the debt and deficit, i'll tell you what the american people are obsessing about right now is that unemployment is still way too high, and too many folks' homes are still under water. and prices of things that they need, not just that they want, are going up. a lot faster than their paychecks are, if they've got a job. and so even after we solve this problem, we've still got a lot of work to do.
mentioning we should renew the pay roll tax for another year, we should make unemployment there for another year, we should -- >> that's not my point. >> but you were making the point about whether or not that issue could be wrapped into this deal. my point is that those are a whole another set of issues that we need to be talking about and working on. i've got an infra structure bill that would put construction workers back to work rebuilding roads and bridges, we should be cooperating on that. most of the things i've proposed to help spur on additional job growth are traditionally bipartisan. i've got three trade deals sitting, ready to go. and these are all trade deals that the republicans told me were their top priorities. they said this would be one of the best job creators that we could have. and yet it's still being held up because some folks don't want to
provide trade adjustment assistance to people who may be displaced as a consequence of trade. surely we can come up with a compromise to solve those problems. so there will be huge differences between now and november 2012 between the parties. and whoever the republican nominee is, you know, we're going to have a big, serious debate about what we believe is the right way to guide america forward and to win the future. and i'm confident that i will win that debate, because i think that we've got -- we've got the better approach. but in the meantime, surely we can every once in a while sit down and actually do something that helps american people right here and right now. >> in the meantime, sir, what i'm curious about. as you said raising the debt ceiling is nearly fairly routine but it's brought us to the point
of economic armageddon, as you said. if you can't get past this one, how can you get any agreement on those issues you talk about? >> i am going to keep on working, and i'm going to keep on trying, and what i'm going to do is to hope that in part this debate has focused the american people's attention a little bit more and will subject congress to scrutiny and i think increasingly the american people are going to say to themselves, you know what? if a party or a politician is constantly taking the position, my way or the highway, constantly being locked into, you know, ideologically rigid positions, that you know, we're going to remember at the polls. you know, it's kind of cumulative. the american people aren't paying attention to the details of every aspect of this negotiation, but i think what
the american people are paying attention to is who seems to be trying to get something done. and who seems to be just posturing and trying to score political points. and i think it's going to be in the interest of everybody who wants to continue to serve in this town to make sure that they are on the right side of that impression. and that's, by the way, what i said in the meeting two days ago. i was very blunt. i said, the american people do not want to see a bunch of posturing. they don't want to hear a bunch of sound bites. what they want is for us to solve problems. and we all have to remember that. that's why we were sent here. last question, scott. >> thank you, mr. president. i wonder if it you've seen any sign in these daily meetings that republicans are being more aligned with that american majority, or if we are in the same place today that we were on monday.
>> it's probably better for you to ask them how they're thinking. i do think that, and i've said this before, speaker boehner in good faith was trying to see if it was possible to get a big deal done. he had some problems in his caucus. my hope is that, after some reflection, after we walk through all the numbers this week and we looked at all the options that there may be some movement, some possibility, some interest to still get something more than the bare minimum done. but we're running out of time. that's the main concern that i have at this point. we have enough time to do a big deal. i've got reams of paper and printouts and spreadsheets on my desk, and so we know how we can create a package that solves the deficits and debt for a significant period of time.
but in order to do that, we've got to get started now. and that's why i'm expecting some answers from all the congressional leaders sometime in the next couple of days. and i have to say, you know, this is tough on the democratic side, too. i mean, some of the things that i've talked about and said i would be willing to see happen, there are some democrats who think that's absolutely unacceptable. and so that's where i'd have the selling job, chuck, is trying to sell some of our party, that, if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you're a conservative. and the reason is because if the only thing we're talking about over the next year or two years, five years is debt and deficit, then it's very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so our kids are trained, how do we actually
rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure. you know, if you care about making investments in our kids and making investments in our infrastructure and making investments in basic research, then you should want our fiscal house in order so that every time we propose a new initiative somebody doesn't just throw up their hands and say, oh, more big spending, more government. you know, it would be very helpful for us to be able to say to the american people, our fiscal house is in order. and so now the question is, what should we be doing to win the future and make ourselves more competitive and create more jobs, and what aspects of what government's doing are a waste and we should eliminate. and that's the kind of debate i'd like to have. all right? thank you, guys. >> president obama wrapping up his third press conference in in
some 17 days dealing with the debt ceiling in answer to one question from a reporter there, saying i always have hope. don't you remember my campaign? in reference to getting a debt deal done and getting it done in a timely fashion. let's bring in mike viqueira, also luke russrussert, joining from capitol hill. the president laid it out, we don't have to do anything radical and laid it out really well in talking about the fact that over the last ten years we've done nothing but cut taxes. we've had two wars to pay and we have a recession that we're still trying to come out of. but we've got this massive debt. does the president come off like the debt reduction champion after a speech like this and paint the republicans as the ones playing politics? >> reporter: the president certainly comes off as someone who's willing to go big on the order of $4 trillion deficit reduction over ten years, and he comes off as the individual who's willing to compromise. as the president himself noted several times there, the maert majority of the american public is with him. that is the problem, it's not
only the democrats and -- who are fighting them on this issue of tax revenues and their resolve not to raise taxes in any way, shape or form, it's also fellow republicans in the senate who are now getting ready to move forward with something that would raise the debt ceiling without much deficit or debt reduction automatically attached to it. i think what you've seen the president do here today is continue to say he's for a big deal, time is running out. you heard the analogy he made, he looked at this like a layer cake, but he's also preparing the american public and everyone else, the markets in particular, for accepting the bottom layer of that layer cake, what he just called the bare minimum. in that he's referring to this emerging compromise, coming out of the senate from mitch mcconnell and harry reid, complicated but would not be associated with any automatic debt reductions. there would have to be votes, proposals, dare we say it, a commission that would be modeled on the realignment and closure commission. you come up with recommendations, you get an up
or down vote in the house or senate. you can't change it at all. the same would be done with reducing government spending under this emerging or emerging proposal in the senate, but house republicans today sort of threw cold water on that, unclear whether they're simply preparing, fighting to the last, preparing their members to accept what's coming out of the senate. but 18 days away from what everyone, except a few house republicans and others, say is going to be a government default. >> luke, let's talk about the fact that the president is downplaying the ugliness that seems to be perpetrated on television, what we seem to be covering, how this debt debate goes on. the president saying the ugliness just isn't true. but when they come to the tv cameras and talk the rhetoric they're talking, how is the american public supposed to believe that? >> reporter: well, it's interesting, thomas. obviously the president tried to pour some water on what has been kind of a fiery few last sessions, not yesterday but the one before, specifically between he and eric cantor in the room.
it's interesting how that plays out in the general public. president obama essentially saying, look, the people of the united states are not concerned about the reality tv, that this has become. the sort of back and forth, back and forth between the leadership and what exactly is happening. what i found quite interesting, though, is in that press conference is once again kind of what he did onnd month, president obama went forward and said, look, we need to go against our bases and make tough decisions. and essentially by doing that he's calling out house republicans, saying, look. we need to go against the ideological right and left, that people that are very much passionate and put in these positions to make choices that are overall better for the country. house republicans, the ones i spoke to yesterday, spoke to them today, they do not see this as a very difficult choice. they see this more, if anything, as a choice needed to curtail government spending. the 87 freshman house republicans were sent here, that has been their mantra all along.
viqueira is talking about things in the senate and possibly a grand deal there, i spoke to one tea party-backed freshman yesterday, he said that the mcconnell plan, this idea that you would cut the deficit but -- sorry, you would extend the debt limit, you wouldn't cut spending, was, quote, unworthy, unrealistic. that's what the president is dealing with here. he's not dealing with typical leaders in the sense of the old guard, guys like john boehner and mitch mcconnell who are actually cutting deals, he's dealing with guys like eric cantor who are representing a very vocal, fired up group of house republicans that see this as their calling to not allow the debt limit to go forward because america cannot take on more spending. it's very interesting to see how he can play through that, thomas, and he obviously tried to today by saying go against the bases and try and do what's best for the country. >> luke, thank you. mike viqueira, thanks so much. i'll bring in david gregory, mott rater and host of "meet the press." he joins me in washington. david, after watching this and
hearing the president saying there is time, a unique to get something done, something big done, do you think that can happen now? or do you think there is the potential mitch mcconnell could come up with a short term deal that the president would then need to sign? >> i think we're talking about a smaller solution to a really big problem. and a really tough decision for another day, which is unfortunately kind of the way of washington here. you know, the president talked about standing up to everyone's bases and yet he still wasn't specific about what he was prepared to do in terms of trimming medicare spending. but he is putting a lot of spending cuts out there as a possibility in this deal, but is adamant about getting some kind of tax increase or revenue increase as they're sometimes called. in other words, not just tax rates but closing loopholes and the like. as luke suggested, that's not going to happen. so what i heard from the president today was something smaller. they've agreed to roughly $1 trillion worth of spending cuts. if they're not going to get anything in the way of tax increases to go along with that,
he didn't sound very optimistic about getting to a figure higher than that in terms of spending cuts, because as he said, then you start to gut domestic spending to a point that is really counterproductive. but, how ever you look at it, there was two things happening. one the debt ceiling is likely to be raised somehow. two, the president was speaking a lot as a candidate in 2012, talking about what he's prepared to do, trying to pick up the mantle as someone who wants to cut government spending and makes the case republicans are unreasonable, they're not making good on their own priorities when it comes to cut government spending because they won't take a balanced approach to a deal. so he wants to have this tax fight in the 2012 campaign. >> david, i want to talk to you about a guest you've had on "meet the press," grover norquist, the president of americans for tax reform. this is a group who had all 235 house members and 41 senators, most of them republicans, sign this pledge about not raising
taxes. do you think this really has that bep hind the scenes chokehold on how republicans have acted throughout this? >> you know, norquist said in our past conversation, which is on our website, that the bigger concern for him is not the deficit, it is spending. that if you deal with government spending, then ultimately you can solve the deficit problem. so, yes, he's focused on taxes, and there's no question about it. i mean, it is an ironclad view within the republican party right now, particularly those with tea party sentiments, that the tax -- taxes at all. not just tax rates, but no taxes can be touched as part of this deal that spending alone needs to be addressed to unwind what the president talked about. unwinding debt that has been building for a decade and that he's contributed to mightily as well. >> david, we'll see you this weekend on "meet the press." david gregory, thanks so much. want to get reaction now from the president's press conference with our panel, karen hunter, journalist, publisher
and msnbc contributor. and richard wolffe, msnbc political analyst and also author of "renegade, the making of a president." we just left david gregory talking about grover norquist. what is your thought about how he holds a behind-the-scenes control over what the house republicans, these elected politicians are doing, this unelected man? >> well, grover's influential, it's true. his ideas have been. but he's maybe not quite as important as even he thinks he is. this is bigger than even grover norquist. the tea party does have a hold within the drive and spirit of the republican party, but it is bigger than that. one thing we've seen played out this week is the test of republican leadership is that eric cantor and the tea party folks, he seeks to represent is john boehner going for this bigger deal. that's why i think the white house has got this last sliver of hope here that boehner can
re-assert his leadership, get back to the table with as big a deal. of course folks on the hill and senate side are looking for something else. the president kept using the words balanced, serious and compromise. whether or not there's a deal, he's trying to present himself as the balanced guy in the room in a debate which is not balanced so far. >> doug, does the president come out of a press conference like this looking as a champion for debt reduction and painting the republican side as playing politics? >> it's certainly his intent, but the reality is he's very late to this issue. he's put out three budgets that show the u.s. going into a spiral, ignored his own commission, and the thing he today described as the worst possible approach. the political imperatives are clear, but the policy imperatives, the fact that we do in fact have to change, of course really require him to show some leadership. he's never put out a specific plan. he's never shown how these supposedly modest changes in
entitlements add up to the dramatic change in course we need and that's a vacuum that needs to be filled. >> karen, when we were watching this, we were making comments about the fact that the president laid out, we haven't had tax increases over the last ten years. we've had a recession, we've had two wars to fight. why do you think the top 2% of america has a choke hold on the other 98%? >> because they are -- funds the congress, people in congress who are also multi millionaires. you're asking them to fund their interes interests. the real crux of this, thomas, is not his plan, it's the fact that these people in congress have a vested interest in seeing him fail. so as long as they have a vested interest in seeing him fail, skps if is about 2012 for them, it is about mitch mcconnell and others saying they want to make hm a one-term president, why would they compromise? as long as this president is willing to compromise with people who aren't willing to compromise with him, we'll continue having this problem.
it comes down to the american people. if 80% of us agree with making this happen, we need to ask these folks against it, who are they servicing? who are they really representing? because it's not us. >> it really does beg -- >> if i could say a couple things, the tired connard, the score keeper, congress put out a report they said, that's not where the debt came from. so we need to be honest about the facts. >> it's not honest. >> the congressional budget office. just read it. the other important fact on the ground is that only 25% of americas want to raise the debt ceiling at all. so the actually retail public are ones that go against what the president is -- >> they are all about debt reduction, though. >> come on. they don't understand, we ask people, what is raising the national debt limit? you ask people, there are a number ofout. what do people want? that-day they the deficit can be
dealt with spending cuts. 2/3 of the american people say a balanced a mixture. they don't say what the mix should be. they understand that when you have a mixture of tax cuts and spending they want to see everything mixed up together. >> hold on one sec. we need to take a quick break. i want you to stay hot and fired up for everybody on the other side. we're going to be back after this. stick around msnbc the place for politics. as boomers grow older it's imperative we get a good night sleep to stay healthy and maintain our quality of life. the national substitute of health recommends boomers go to sleep and wake up at the same time even on weekends. try not to nap during the day so you can sleep at night. keep an eye on your caffeine intake and avoid alcohol close intake and avoid alcohol close to bedtime, and make sure youjuh probiotic cap a day exercise regularly.
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to 36 hours? >> we absolutely can. but we probably will not. the president needs to lay that on the seats of republicans and make up man tras the way that they have and create this for the american people where the problem lies. >> can the compromise be made in your estimation? >> i don't think the big deals are going to happen. we need to raise the debt ceiling. i think what's missing is him putting something forward. all he does is call on congress to do it. they haven't been able to do it so far. it's time to change the game plan. >> do you think there can be a big deal or a much smaller deal than mitch mcconnell will be bringing forward? >> there can be a deal done. it's not a smaller deal that's going to be brought forward with mitch mcconnell. it's the promise of a deal somewhere down the road. republicans have the strange situation of raising the debt
limit and pretending they're not and vending the power to the big government they hate so much. >> i want to thank all three of you for joining me. this hour's been interesting with the president's press conference. his third in 17 days. taking to it the american people. thanks going to do it for me today. i'm going to see you back here at 11:00 a.m. eastern time on monday. i'm filling in on "news nation" at 2:00. you can follow me on twitter. coming up in our next hour, stick around because there are new developments in the casey anthony trial. she's going to be back in court and you want to know why and new developments surrounding rupert murdoch and the phone hacking scandal of the news of the world. bye, everybody. bye, everybody. have a great day. it has microparticles, enters the bloodstream faster and rushes relief to the site of pain. it's clinically proven to relieve pain twice as fast. new bayer advanced aspirin.
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they've got 24 hours. >> if they show me a serious plan, i'm ready to move. even if it requires some tough decisions on my part. on the table right now a last ditch effort from senate leaders harry reid and mitch mcconnell, it's a plan c that includes a trillion dollars in cuts. but no tax hikes or medicare cuts. it's still not clear if either side can get their party to vote yes. >> our stand on the debt limit has been clear. there can be no tax hikes because tax hikes destroy jobs. we need real spending cuts. and real spending cuts that will exceed the amount of increase many the debt limit. >> it is too late to continue to play partisan games. we need to come together. >> we're at the white house now. republicans are the ones, mike, that made the